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Personal development plan for middle managers

Caught in the Middle: Why Developing and Retaining Middle Managers Can Be So Challenging

Almost every company has them. They may number six or 6, 000 and they all share the same job category — middle managers. They are often referred to as the “glue” that holds companies together, bridging the gap between the top management team and lower level workers. They implement strategy and organizational changes, keeping workers engaged during both good and bad economic cycles.

However, middle managers also can be a challenging group of employees to develop and retain. According to a 2007 Accenture survey of middle managers around the world, 20% reported dissatisfaction with their current organization and that same percentage reported that they were looking for another job. One of the top reasons cited was lack of prospects for advancement.

“Many companies are seeing significant turnover in middle management ranks, and with significant turnover, they don’t have the ability to execute strategy, ” says vice dean of Wharton Executive Education Thomas Colligan. “Top management can spend all their time creating strategy, but without someone there to implement it, where are you at the end of the day?”

In addition to strategy implementation issues, the cost of turnover is extremely high for companies. Colligan noted that one large partnership facing a 20% turnover rate did a calculation in which it concluded that for each 1% it could reduce turnover, it would increase partner earnings by $80, 000. “Middle managers are very important to attract, develop and retain, and some companies are becoming painfully aware of that.”

These observations are even truer in a down economy that is struggling with higher gas and food prices, reduced consumer spending, downsizing and a degree of uncertainty that is affecting industries across the board.



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